Parents who are married often deal with the struggle of keeping a vibrant marriage and personal life alongside the ever-continuous demands of raising kids. With the addition of children, it seems that minutes evaporate, hardly leaving time to sleep, much less a romantic life, devotional time with God or much needed disciplines like exercise. Wise couples will recognize this early and come up with ways to fight to keep all the essential elements of a healthy life working. Here's the good news... You do not have to live on the edge of burnout if you are willing to make a few changes and take some steps to serve your spouse. That may sound counter-intuitive; but remember, the answer for ALL healthy things in marriage comes through giving, NOT taking!
Allow me to introduce "The Parenting Pick and Roll."The pick and roll we find in the great sport of basketball is defined by Wikipedia this way, "The play begins with a defender guarding a ballhandler. The ballhandler moves toward a teammate, who sets a 'screen' (or 'pick') by standing in the way of the defender, who is separated from the still-moving ballhandler. The defender is forced to choose between guarding the ballhandler or the screener. If the defender tries to guard the ballhandler, then the screener can move toward the basket, sometimes by a foot pivot ('roll'), and is now open for a pass. If the defender chooses instead to guard the screening teammate, then the ballhandler has an open shot. Alternatively, the ballhandler may pass the ball to an open teammate. A well-executed pick and roll is the result of teamwork."
This is exactly what married couples need in their parenting! The goal is for you and your spouse to win together, NOT separately or alone. This means you must look at how your lives operate. Do a little inventory of your life. What priorities are you failing to protect? In my experience, there are a few priorities that always seem to get edged out by the defense...I mean the kids. :)
Devotional time with God. At our church (Highpoint Church), we call this a Priority Time because we want people to see this as the "priority that sets all other priorities." Especially if you have small children, uninterrupted time to read your Bible and pray seems impossible.
Exercise. Everyone needs some amount of exercise in their lives to maintain good health and mental well being. Where does it fit? Mornings? Afternoons? Evenings? I'm sure, like most of us, you can think of 10 reasons for each of those time slots that make exercise seem impossible to fit in. Of course, if you don't exercise, your life will be affected in many ways.
Romance. Ok married people, you gotta be going on dates, kissing, touching and making love regularly...that's right, regularly. Not regular like paying you monthly utility bill, I mean regular like having family dinner at the table or doing laundry. Countless couples slowly forfeit their romantic lives as as their family grows. This is dangerous!
Tasks. You and your spouse simply want and need a little time to get a few seemingly insignificant tasks done. When we avoid the insignificant tasks, they grow into bigger and bigger tasks that eventually demand far too much attention. How many times have you procrastinated on your laundry or put off cutting the grass? Small tasks seem to grow when left alone.
Fun. Sure, you and your spouse have fun together - that falls in the romance category. This category is all about the personal fun you desire with friends or hobbies. It is a mental and emotional rejuvenator to have a little fun. That may be reading a book, going hunting with the guys or shopping with the girls.
It can be tough to pull all these things off, and that's why I suggest the "parenting pick and roll." Here's how it works...
Sit down together and talk about the five areas I've identified above. Make a plan. It will not be perfect at first, but make a plan anyway; you can tweak as you go. For each strategic time-slot, come up with a "parenting pick and roll" to make it work. For instance, in our home, I leave the house early in order to get my exercise in. My wife "sets the pick" by single handedly handling the kids for the morning routine. Likewise, a few times a month my wife has dinner with some friends and plays in a regular Bunko group with a bunch of ladies from church (according to them it is NOT gambling!). I stay home and "set the pick" with the kids and take care of the nighttime routine. My wife LOVES Bunko night. She needs Bunko night. I love seeing how a simple evening out refreshes her. Now, our marriage is not perfect by any stretch! We are still trying to define and establish some of the other categories, but we've started. You can too!
Do not be afraid to "set the pick" on your kids. You are not being a bad parent, in fact, it's quite the opposite! You are teaching them the importance of certain priorities. Your kids are selfish. They WILL take every waking moment of your lives, not to mention your money, for their purposes. It's your responsibility to help them see that your home does not revolve around them. The parenting pick and roll can become a marriage life saver! One thing your kids need is for Mom and Dad to have a GREAT marriage. You must embrace teamwork and help each other achieve a more healthy and vibrant life. It takes a commitment from both of you to "set the pick." Interestingly, those who "set picks" (i.e. take responsibilities to free up their spouse), discover a unique satisfaction when they "roll" off the pick knowing they served their mate. This adds invaluable strength to your marriage. GO, TEAM, GO!
Please leave your comments and ways you use the "parenting pick and roll" in your marriage.
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